OYSTERS AND PEARLS
As you may know, I’m a little bit dreamy. Until my arrival in French Polynesia, I was still believing pearls were small treasures found randomly in oysters.
Error. The pearl of Tahiti, formerly known as black pearl, is the main economic activity of the country. No need of chance to find a pearl. All you need is money. The prices vary according to the quality. I’ll tell you more about it next month.
During my trip in the atoll of Raoria in the Tuamotu, I was lucky enough to visit a pearl farm. Gigi, foreman, gave me access to the installations. At first, it is necessary to know that the creation of pearls is caused by human, rarely by nature.
By means of instruments, employees make a section in the reproductive organ of the oyster, insert a transplant (piece of mother-of-pearl), then do the same with a small ball. This ball, which is generally imported from Asia, is formed by pieces of oyster. Then, they send back the oyster in the water for a period varying from 12 to 16 months. Once this time is over, the oyster produce a pearl.
Several factors influence the quality of the pearl, among which the temperature and the cleanliness of the water. Every atoll produces moreover a pearl with distinctive characteristics. As an example, the pearls from the north are very dark. In contrast, those collected in the south are beautifully colored.
Next month, we’ll go pearls shopping in Tahiti.